Whether your pet has feathers, fur, or a mane, these tips were designed to help you capture its true personality. Every creature is unique, and through photography, we can work to highlight their best side. Of course, even the best trained animals won’t sit and pose for long. Thankfully, obedience class is not necessary for successful imagery. In fact, a playful attitude can be used to a photographer’s advantage.
Introduce your pet to the camera when it’s still young. Over time, it will become familiar with a lens being pointed at it. Some horses are so intelligent, they seem to enjoy having their picture taken. A versatile zoom lens in the 55-200mm range will serve you very well. This will be ideal for close ups, and also at play-time when they’re further away.
Puppies are notoriously mischievous as they explore the world for the first time. By getting down on the ground with them, you’ll be rewarded with much more effective compositions. Don’t be afraid to get the camera up close and angle it upwards. It may slightly alter the look of reality, but this extreme angle can be used to accentuate an animal’s features. If you’re camera has an adjustable LCD screen, it makes it easier to work from this low vantage point.
What is your pet’s favorite thing to do? This will be the ideal situation for a pet photo shoot. Sometimes it helps to have a friend or family member come along to assist. While they throw the frisbee, you can focus on getting great shots. A fast shutter speed of 1/500 to 1/1000 will be the preferable setting to freeze the action. To achieve a proper exposure, you may also need to select a higher ISO.
Some of the best pet photography can be done with smart phones, or point & shoot cameras. Whatever gear you decide on, the key is to have it at the ready for those cute moments. One way to improve your success ratio is to simply play with your cat or dog with the camera nearby. Observe its behavior to see potential patterns. For example, after several rounds of chasing a toy, it may pause to stretch or yawn. These characteristics may seem insignificant at first, but reveal a special part of your pet’s spirit.
Finding an appropriate background is nearly as important as the subject itself. To make sure the attention is on your pet, simplify the entire composition by showing less clutter. Eliminate distracting man made objects by zooming the lens, or physically moving. For a beautiful effect, you can also use a wide aperture like f4 to render everything behind your subject out-of-focus.
Photos and Text by Chris Corradino